New Orleans native Caroline Gerdes may have recently moved to Washington, D.C., but she loves her hometown. So much so that she recently spent a year–with the help of a Young Explorers grant from the National Geographic Society–of her life working on an oral history project about the Ninth Ward, where her father grew up, to document the community’s rich history and culture–especially the edible aspects. Here are some of Caroline’s favorite things about the city she’s proud to call home.
New Orleans is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to eat! In the morning, it’s beignets and coffee; at lunch we do po’ boys, and at dinner the red beans are on me!
My city’s best museum is New Orleans Museum of Art because it is home to an acclaimed sculpture garden and is City Park adjacent. I also recommend the the National WWII Museum. Did you know New Orleans has a special connection to D-Day? The amphibious Higgins boats used at Normandy were built right here in New Orleans.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to watch for the “Katrina potholes.”
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Audubon Zoo.
My city really knows how to celebrate everything because celebrating is what we do best. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
You can tell if someone is from my city if they wear a fleur-de-lis like a badge of honor.
My city is known for being a party town, but really alcohol is just a part of our culture. In New Orleans, we take a European approach to enjoying food and drinks, taking time to savor the moment.
The best outdoor market in my city is the French Market.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Gambit.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go for a walk in the French Quarter or on Magazine Street.
To escape the crowds, I do Mardi Gras Uptown and avoid the French Quarter.
The most random thing about my city is drive-thru daiquiris.
Frenchmen Street is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out…In New Orleans, you can dance anywhere!
Second lines could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should eat crawfish bread at Jazz Fest.
In the summer you should eat sno-balls on the Lake Pontchartrain lakefront.
In the fall you should eat jambalaya at a tailgate party.
In the winter you should eat King Cake before a parade.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Zoo, and getting a balloon animal in Jackson Square.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?”
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because New Orleans’s tapestry of food, culture, and rhythm gives it a spirit unlike any other American city. You will leave happy, full, and inspired.